blackboard resources

last.updated 3.16.08


Research Methodology Overview


Most students at the master's level tend to see themselves mostly as consumers of disciplinary knowledge; many do not imagine themselves being producers of this knowledge. But for many reasons it is important that students with advanced degrees have the tools to contribute to their disciplinary "discussion," nationally as scholars or locally as leaders. The last part of the semester will be dedicated to teaching you research strategies. Today we will focus on the basics of the process.

Before Class

  • Read Hyland "Researching writing and writers" [BB]
  • Read Polio "Research Methodology in Second Language Writing Research [BB]
  • Read Silva "On the philosophical bases of inquiry..." [L2WR]
  • Read Casanave "Uses of narratives in L2 writing research" [L2WR]
  • Submit Demonstration of Application as a hard copy to instructor at the beginning of class
  • Bring the following articles to class: Constino & Hyon, Nero, Y. Kachru, Kasper & Weiss, and Allison
  • Note  Tuesday, March 18, 2008 is the last day to drop classes


Each student will give a 2-3 minute synopsis of the work they did on their Demonstration of Application.

Discussion: Different Contexts

We will discuss the following:

  • What is theory? what is practice? what is praxis (not the test)? How are theory and practice developed? What is the role of research in these processes?
  • the definitions of validity and reliability (revisited), triangulation, positivism and relativism, the "research process."
  • What questions do you have about these readings? What anxieties do you have about the Methodology Proposal?
  • What are the advantages of quantitative methods? qualitative methods? Or, as Silva suggests, is this a silly and unproductive dichotomy? In this vein, what significant differences did you see in the ways that Polio and Casanave talk about the creation of knowledge?

Activity: Analyzing Studies

You will be assigned to one of fie groups; each group will be asked to carefully examine one of these five articles (Constino & Hyon, Nero, Y. Kachru, Kasper & Weiss, and Allison) and answer the following questions:

  • What are the scholar's research questions?
  • What methods has the scholar used to answer these questions? Try to use the readings to describe them.
  • How well do you think the methods are reported in this articles? Do you feel that you could replicate this study?
  • Do you think the scholar answer her/his research questions?
  • What other ways could you have designed this study to answer the same questions?

Be prepared to report your findings at the end of the class.